Thessaloniki’s history as a multicultural city with a strong Jewish population is both well-known and little-explored.
Before the Holocaust, Thessaloniki was home to 80,000 Jews. In 1943 under Nazi occupation some 60,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps and the rich cultural history almost obliterated.
Mayor Yiannis Boutaris calls the loss of Thessaloniki’s Jews the “darkest moment in its history” and has long advocated for an exploration of this aspect of the city’s history. Last week he announced a plan to build a a Jewish school in the Baron Hirsch neighbourhood, the city’s old Jewish quarter.
“It will be a school, not just for Jewish kids, and it will be done in the Hirsch area,” he told the press, explaining that the project will be partly funded by private stakeholders working alongside the municipality.
Likewise, Thessaloniki’s new Holocaust Museum, which will enter development in January, will be funded jointly by Greece, the German state, and the Niarchos Foundation. The museum will be on a site overlooking the railway station from which the Jews were evacuated in WWII.